The Top 10 Restaurants for Al Fresco Dining in London
Now that the clouds are parting and the birds are singing, Londoners are donning the SPF and making their way out into the sunshine. From secret courtyards to a rosé terrace, we can’t think of a better excuse to go daytime drinking whilst lounging in the sun. Sybarite food and drinks writer Ina Yulo brings you all the top locations in the capital where you can enjoy your meal al fresco.
Fancy yourself a little trip to Saint Tropez? With its location right on the Thames, Le Pont de la Tour, the elegant classic French restaurant inside a former 19th-century tea warehouse, transports you right onto the French Riviera. The restaurant has partnered up with esteemed wine brand Minuty Rosé to launch a summer terrace called La Maison du Rosé. Enjoy seafood-focussed cuisine and rosé flights amidst a pastel pink floral extravaganza.
A favourite amongst the shoppers and residents seeking refuge from bustling Kings Road, the courtyard at Bluebird Chelsea is the perfect place to enjoy a sun-soaked afternoon tea or round of cocktails. The grade-II listed building exudes art deco charm and their menu, with the likes of oak-smoked salmon with scrambled eggs, aged bavette steak, and sticky toffee pudding, gets you sorted no matter what time of day you decide to pop by.
Esteemed chef Adam Handling’s laidback East London eatery is perhaps best known for its innovative dishes like the legendary chicken butter with sourdough bread or the cheese and truffle donuts, but a little birdie tells us their outdoor seating area is one you want to book. Just a stone’s throw away from lively Hoxton Square, enjoy an al fresco dinner featuring their seven-course tasting menu with an emphasis on sustainable, zero-waste dishes.
Taking a cue from the cervejarias and tascas of sunny Porto and Lisbon, Portuguese wine bar and restaurant Bar Douro welcomes its guests onto their outdoor terrace where upturned barrels make for the perfect canvas for small plates like smoked Portuguese sausages or salt cod fritters. Sip your White Port & Tonic as you bask under some rays and people watch from their convenient spot on Flat Iron Square.
You can’t get much more central than the new Nova development by Victoria station. Lay back and relax into one of the many plush cushions that adorn Rail House Café’s outdoor patio as you make your way through their new menu with options like truffled Portobello and spinach wellington and gin-cured salmon with an avocado and jalapeño mousse. Seasonal summer cocktails include their signature Garden Leave cocktail with Hendrick’s gin, champagne, elderflower, and lemon and the Saffron Spritz with saffron-infused Tanqueray gin, rhubarb liqueur, champagne, and tonic water.
Tucking into an assortment of tapas and pouring yourself a glass of sangria is best when at one of the eateries from authentic Spanish restaurant group, Barrafina. Their Drury Lane outpost has an outdoor terrace where you can dine under a parasol with the redbrick building as your backdrop. Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Theatreland, it’ll be hard to pull yourself away from their famous stuffed courgette flowers and pimientos de padrón.
Summer nights were meant for late-night dining. Prepare to get whisked away by this pop-up dessert bar in Angel serving up a three-course tasting menu with options like 68% dark chocolate crème, parsnip ice cream, orange granita, fresh horseradish zest, and orange puree, “Banoffee” banana with shortbread, lime, caramelised milk, and aerated coffee, and avocado and white chocolate mousse, torched sweetcorn, chai chili dressing, and caramel coca nibs. Whisk will be open from May 14th-August 3rd and diners can avail of the charming little terrace as they enjoy a wine or tea pairing to go with their sweet treats.
Kings Cross bar and restaurant Rotunda has just celebrated the reopening of their canal-side terrace. Whether you opt for one of the many choices at their Venetian Spritz Bar or choose from their list of 20 wines by the glass, the spacious astroturfed space is the perfect destination for sundrenched tipples. On May 18th, Head Chef Jai Parkinson is hosting a BBQ and Beer Masterclass where guests will learn how to make their own marinades to complement different meats and vegetables. Tickets are £39.50 with groups over 5 receiving a 10% discount. This includes a tasting of three craft beers to be enjoyed with the meal. All participants get to take home their marinades and a recipe card. Book your ticket by e-mailing [email protected] or visit their website.
Vegan behemoth By CHLOE has recently launched its Spring menu, which will be available until the end of May. The seasonal line-up includes a vegetable Minestrone soup, a Spring miso soup, smashed avocado toast with cucumber, dill, almond parm, and tofu feta, a Spring salad with sugar snap peas, brussel sprouts, and radicchio, an oat & hemp banana pancake, a seasonal lemonade, and the Cardi Beet smoothie. The One Tower Bridge branch has al fresco seating and gives diners an amazing view of one of the city’s most famous landscapes.
Escape the streets of London and enter a cosmopolitan jungle inspired by the unique flora and exotic ambience of Sri Lanka. Dalloway Terrace, the all-day eatery in the heart of Bloomsbury has once again transformed its gorgeous outdoor terrace to complement the warmer weather. The spring jungle theme is further brought to life by a Sri Lankan-inspired seasonal menu with dishes like smoked jackfruit salad with lime & chili dressing, moong dahl lentils, and an afternoon tea with mango & coriander tart with pink peppercorn meringue and lychee & coconut cake with lime glaze.